Budapest to Bamako and Back – Post Rally

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Budapest to Bamako

We’re on the plane home now from the Budapest to Bamako rally and we’ve had an amazing time.  It was a long couple of weeks -nearly 20,000 kms there and back. We didn’t have access to wifi, hence the lack of posts.  We did finish the race in Banjul and did really well considering we really didn’t know what we were getting into.  Initially, I thought this was a GPS charity event, which it was but it was also a very serious well-organized play for keeps rally.

The teams that came in the top 3 positions had done it before, had well set up vehicles and they played to win.  Every day was a challenge both physically and mentally.  It wasn’t just trying to navigate one’s way around the African bush but around bad roads, borders, people, different customs, animals, donkey carts and anything else you can think of.  Out of the 150 or so cars that started with us in Budapest there were far fewer at the finish as the conditions weeded vehicles and people out.   You probably wonder why we decided to do the race section.

Why Did We Enter the Race?

Well, it is the best way to test the systems of any vehicle, make it do something over and over again in adverse conditions under time constraints.  We found our EC to be up to the task.  Every morning while most were packing up their tents and campsites, we put away the coffee pot and lowered the roof ready to go in seconds.  Every night we had a hot shower and food from the fridge.  Eggs we bought in plastic bags didn’t break, the wine was chilled and our stash of cheese was always available.  Our bed was always made so we could fall into it exhausted every night and those items in the locker boxes stayed where we put them.  We got to see places that would probably not be at the top of our bucket list (or even on the list) and meet some really great people in our very capable and comfortable EarthCruiser.

So now, I’ll work backwards, we’ve taken a ton of photos and videos—you’ll have to forgive some of the quality of them as we spent many hours on corrugations and I don’t have the steadiest hand… so yes, we’ll bore you with our travel photos, to give you some idea of the amazing experience we had.

Just Some Notes About The Rally

Although this was a well-organized rally through some of the most desolate parts of the world, you were essentially on your own.  At the beginning, we were all given the roadbook which had daily distances and information. Such as, don’t cross the border at Rosso and DON’T DRIVE AT NIGHT IN AFRICA!  Bwaaa hahaha, as that was easier said than done given the distances and terrain.

There was a good map app with some of the waypoints and every day there was a morning briefing (which if they said 6 am they meant 6 am) where we downloaded more waypoints and were given the days task sheet (which had even more waypoints some not already loaded on the map).  It was then up to you to pick your route and show up at that night’s camp or destination.  How you did that was up to you.  We had a Garmin Montana and an inReach for emergencies but what I came to rely on was the maps supplied with the app on a tablet.  Without those, we’d still be in the desert somewhere, as I have some serious issues with the Garmin (probably mostly due to operator error). More about that later.

It took me several days to get my head around all the devices (nothing like learning on the fly) and to figure out what we needed to be doing.  That said, we were lucky to show up to camp before 10 pm every night. Others weren’t so lucky, so we worked on little sleep which created a whole new dimension to the event.  Lance drove the whole way as I don’t drive a manual very well and I was not comfortable with the road conditions.  He probably doesn’t want to drive across a town now, except in his EC but then all things in moderation.

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